CrowdFlower Rebrands as Figure Eight to Take Advantage of Booming Interest in AI

Here’s one that slipped under the radar as we were gearing up for FinovateSpring. Crowdsourcing platform provider for online staffing Crowdflower rebranded as Figure Eight in April. In a blog post previewing the change, CEO Robin Bordoli explained that changes in the evolution of artificial intelligence and the market for machine learning were opening up new opportunities for the firm.

“As the market has evolved, CrowdFlower has adapted to serve our customers and their changing needs. We’ve executed intentional changes to how we operate to meet the market requirements of scale, quality, complexity, and flexibility,” Bordoli wrote. These changes have included shifting the company from managed service to SaaS, abstracting sourcing human intelligence from the application of human intelligence, Human-in-the-loop and active learning, combining human intelligence and machine learning, and acting as a trusted AI guide for customers just beginning to take advantage of the technology. Bordoli took over as CEO of the company which was led by founder Lukas Biewald until early 2015.

The company said that it chose the name Figure Eight for a variety of reasons – and in consultation with “one of the top naming agencies in the valley.” These reasons varied from the continuous loop shape of the figure eight to the number eight as a reference to a byte, which is a building block of eight bits, to the numerical difference between the atomic numbers for Carbon (6) and Silicon (14). “Carbon is an essential component of human biology,” Bordoli wrote. “Silicon is an essential component of computing power. So the number eight represents the bridge between humans and machines.”

As part of the reorganization, Figure Eight has made a handful of executive and board of directors changes. Dale Brown was hired to work as VP of Business Development after previously serving in a similar capacity at Bitnami. Robert Munro was promoted from VP of Machine Learning to Chief Technology Officer. Alyssa Simpson Rochwerger was hired to work as VP of Product, having worked as director of project management at IBM Watson. Figure Eight also added Alta Vista search engine company founder Louis Monier to its board of directors.

Based in San Francisco and founded in 2009, Figure Eight (as CrowdFlower) demonstrated its platform that automates the management of online human workforces at FinovateFall 2014, earning Best of Show honors. With $58 million in funding, Figure Eight includes Industry Ventures, M12, Canvas Ventures, Trinity Ventures, Harmony Partners, and Bessemer Venture Partners among its investors. Earlier this month, the company introduced a suite of new solutions designed to help more businesses embrace AI: Figure Eight Datasets, Video Object Tracking, and Smart Bounding Box Annotation.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate

  • CrowdFlower Rebrands as Figure Eight to Take Advantage of Booming Interest in AI.
  • Market EarlyBird Unveils Mobile App.
  • Plaid Goes International.
  • Personal Capital Exceeds $7 Billion AUM, Lands $15 Million Credit Extension.

Around the web

  • DeepTarget and Segmint collaborate, combining Segmint’s Data Insights and DeepTarget’s cross-selling platform.
  • NYMBUS wraps up 4-month conversion process for Surety Bank.
  • E-Z Parking & Valet launches Passport’s PassportParking app in Greenville.
  • Allied Irish Bank extends agreement with TSYS to continue processing the bank’s credit and debit card portfolios.
  • Lleida.net granted 4th U.S. patent.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Vipera Acquires SoftTelecom for $1.5 Million
  • FutureVault Appoints John D. Orr as New CEO.
  • Handle Financial’s PayNearMe Partners with Blackhawk Network.

Around the web

  • CrowdFlower earns Gartner “Cool Vendor” status for Information Innovation and Governance.
  • Braintree surpasses one billion transactions per quarter milestone.
  • Infosys wins three out of seven Catalyst Awards at TM forum Live.
  • Baidu and PayPal announce strategic partnership.
  • International Air Transport Association chooses fraud prevention technology from Featurespace.
  • Top Image Systems announces eFlow AP 5.2 integration with SAP S/4HANA.
  • Wipro and Compuware partner to launch mainframe center of excellence.
  • Agreement Express ranked among top 100 technology companies in British Columbia by Business in Vancouver.
  • SearchUnifiedCommunications features Bluescape in its look at use cases for digital collaborative whiteboards.
  • Pendo Systems announces trio of new hires to support a “banner year” for the company.
  • Central Bankshares now uses Jack Henry’s Banno for online banking.
  • UN Migration Agency Selects Kony to Accelerate Digital Strategy to Reach More Migrants.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • EquityZen Secures $3 Million in Round Led by Draper Associates.
  • Karmic Labs Lands $17.2 Million to Grow Enterprise Payment Solutions.
  • Innovation Acceleration: Incubators and Incubation Labs Drive Development in Fintech.

Around the web

  • MoneYou integrates Mitek’s identity solutions for real-time digital onboarding.
  • Xignite launches the Xignite Channel Partner Program to offer partners integrated cloud-based market data solutions.
  • Betterment launches new Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) Portfolio.
  • Forbes profiles Unison in look at the challenges facing homebuying millennials.
  • CrowdFlower adds former Amazon AI product specialist Robert Munro as VP of Machine Learning.
  • NuCypher introduces its decentralized key management system, NuCypher KMS.
  • AltFi talks about the role of “platformification” in supporting innovation in fintech with Avoka CEO Phil Copeland.
  • IDG Connect interviews Xpenditure CEO Boris Bogaert on current trends in banking including blockchain R&D.
  • IBM opens new data centers in London, U.K.; Sydney, Australia; and San Jose, California.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

CrowdFlower Raises $20 Million to Bloom AI Adoption

AI data enrichment platform, CrowdFlower, has pulled in $20 million in funding today. This is the California-based company’s sixth round of funding since it was founded in 2009 and brings its total raised to $58 million.

Leading today’s round is Industry Ventures. A new investor, Salesforce Ventures, is also participating along with existing investors Canvas Ventures, Microsoft Ventures and Trinity Ventures. CrowdFlower will use the funding to expand the functionality of its platform, integrate with other machine learning technologies, and hire new talent. The company’s CEO, Robin Bordoli, said, “With this funding, we can accelerate our reach and help data science and machine learning teams everywhere produce the training data they need within the scale, cost and quality parameters that matter to them.”

CrowdFlower creates human-in-the-loop technology that offers quality control for data scientists. The company leverages an on-demand workforce to collect, label, and clean data that requires human intelligence. According to Bordoli, we are just starting to scratch the surface of AI. He described AI apps for the enterprise as being “at the beginning of a Cambrian explosion” and said that the bottleneck for mass adoption of machine learning is “the availability of high quality training data and human-in-the-loop workflows to handle the failure states of the algorithm.” Bordoli went on to explain that an algorithm without human input is like “a rocket ship with a large engine but no fuel and no navigation system.”

CrowdFlower’s Tatiana Josephy (VP Product) and Seth Teicher (Head of Content & Business Development) at FinovateFall 2014

At FinovateFall 2014, CrowdFlower won Best of Show in a demo that showed how the on-demand workforce uses its platform to collect, clean, and label financial transaction data. Last month, the company launched a set of dedicated tools for computer vision to enhance its Pixel Labeling Tool.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Kony Appoints Former Hewlett Packard and NCR Exec as Chief Revenue Officer.
  • Fiserv to Acquire Monitise for $89 Million.
  • CrowdFlower Raises $20 Million to Bloom AI Adoption

Around the web

  • Computerworld Recognizes Jack Henry as one of the 2017 Best Places to Work in IT.
  • Icon Solutions expands into the Hungarian market via partnership with T-Systems Hungary.
  • DefenseStorm hires Steve Soukup as Chief Revenue Officer.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • “D3 Banking’s Platform Goes Live at First Tennessee Bank”
  • “Finovate Debuts: Overbond Leverages Technology to Reimagine Bond Issuance”

Around the web

  • Zopa applies for U.K. banking license.
  • AGS Transact enters strategic alliance with ACI Worldwide, bringing its Universal Payments platform to the Indian market.
  • Wipro extends partnership with ASG Technologies to enhance compliance for financial services companies around the world.
  • iSignthis expands its reach into bitcoin industry as partner Coinify ApS announces new partnership with Blockchain.
  • NCR to deploy its Pulse Banking app for operation management at Germany’s Sparkasse Jena.
  • ShopKeep ranks 116 on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500.
  • Standard Chartered launches personalized investment tool for affluent clients.
  • Ping Identity becomes a Workday Certified Solution Partner.
  • TechCrunch reports: CrowdFlower forms a three-person scientific advisory board.
  • Bitcoin wallet company Blockchain is beta testing a new in-wallet purchase-option in partnership with payments-startup Coinify.
  • Kony enhances its Mobility Platform with launch of “Nitro” omnichannel technology.
  • Interactions launches voice biometrics for seamless caller authentication within its Intelligent Virtual Assistant.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

CrowdFlower Brings AI to Business Processes via Partnership with Microsoft

crowdflowerai_homepage_september2016

Best of Show winner CrowdFlower is leveraging Microsoft’s Cortana Intelligence Suite to bring new AI functionality to its human-in-the-loop platform for data scientists. With CrowdFlower AI, the company will apply artificial intelligence to a range of business processes including support ticket classification and sentiment analysis, accessing Microsoft’s technology via its Azure Machine Learning cloud service.

“With the Azure Machine Learning offering, the CrowdFlower platform now allows data-science teams to train and deploy machine-learning models with humans-in-the-loop,” says CrowdFlower CEO Robin Bordoli. “This is an exciting step toward making AI a business reality rather than a science project.” Writing at the CrowdFlower blog, Bordoli described CrowdFlower AI as the product of a “shared vision” between his team and the team from Microsoft Azure Machine Learning to bring machine learning to the enterprise that is a year in the making.

crowdflower_azure_diagram

Bordoli, who took over the helm as CEO in February 2015, also emphasized that the combination of human and machine intelligence was a critical factor in what makes CrowdFlower’s solution unique. He added that it was also a better description of the likely future of AI compared to the way AI is portrayed in the media and even the way it is used by the “technology elite” like Apple, Facebook, Google, and Uber. “Machine learning without human-in-the-loop leads to bad outcomes,” Bordoli wrote, referencing the incident this summer when Facebook fully automated its Trending feature only to have its algorithms publish fake news stories. “AI is machines augmenting humans, not replacing humans,” the CrowdFlower CEO explained. “Machine and human have complimentary strengths. AI is about the art and science of combining the strengths of machine learning and human intelligence.”

A data-enrichment platform for data scientists, CrowdFlower specializes in managing data from an on-demand workforce of more than five million contributors. The company’s platform automates management tasks like data categorization, image annotation, and transcription that require human intelligence, and has been used, for example, to help automate data collection, learning and labeling from financial transaction data. CrowdFlower’s customers include Flickr, Bloomberg, and Home Depot.

Founded in 2009 and headquartered in San Francisco, California, CrowdFlower demonstrated its platform at FinovateFall 2014, earning a Best of Show award. The company has raised a total of $38 million in funding; its most recent investment was a $10 million Series D completed in June.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • CrowdFlower Brings AI to Business Processes via Partnership with Microsoft
  • Fintech Trending: Bots Break Out, AI Gets Personal, and Blockchain Buys the Farm
  • SocietyOne Strikes Up Partnership with Beyond Bank, Reeling in $1.5 Million

Around the web

  • Payoneer to facilitate cross-border payments for e-commerce marketplace, Rakuten, in new partnership.
  • eWise unveils its new financial transaction Categorization-as-a-Service (CaaS) API for FIs.
  • Let’s Talk Payments interviews Swych CEO Deepak Jain. See video of Swych’s Best of Show winning performance at FinovateFall.
  • Bank of America, Santander, and the Royal Bank of Canada to form global blockchain payments network with distributed ledger technology from Ripple.
  • Azimo’s Facebook Messenger bot is now live.
  • Project Juno highlights Featurespace in its European Machine Intelligence Landscape.
  • Larky partners with Credit Union Association of the Dakotas (CUAD).

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

CrowdFlower Closes on a $10 Million Round Led by Microsoft

CrowdFlowerHomepage

Data collection and cleaning platform CrowdFlower closed on $10 million in funding led by Microsoft Ventures. Also participating in the Series D round are Canvas Ventures and Trinity Ventures.

CrowdFlower’s funding now totals $38 million. The company will use the funds to speed adoption of CrowdFlower AI. 

The company gave a Best of Show-winning presentation at FinovateFall 2014 where it demonstrated how its on-demand workforce cleans and labels financial transaction data. Banks upload their data, define their task, and launch their job. CrowdFlower’s taskforce steps in to do what a computer can’t. The crowdsourced workforce completes micro-jobs to fill in holes in incorrect or incomplete data. The company leverages this effort in its recently launched CrowdFlower AI that combines human intelligence with machine learning to create what the company calls, Human-in-the-Loop, a product that uses active learning to make machine learning more viable.lukas_biewald

In a blog post, company CEO and founder Lukas Biewald (pictured right) says, “There are always places where algorithms struggle … . We’ve made it easy to automatically identify where machine learning is struggling and send them back to CrowdFlower jobs for humans to label.”

Founded in 2009, the San Francisco-based company’s customers include LinkedIn, Intuit, Flickr, and eBay.